Second Slotkin challenger steps forward for U.S. House seat

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Another Republican is stepping forward hoping to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin for her seat in Congress.

Mike Detmer, general sales manager at a Michigan auto dealership, had been running for the state House but this week switched his campaign to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Republican Mike Detmer is running for Congress in the 8th District, aiming to challenge Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly.

Detmer, 43, of Howell is also a licensed real estate agent who previously worked for a mortgage company. 

He is the second Republican to declare a campaign in the 8th District. Nikki Snyder, a member of the State Board of Education, on Tuesday announced a run

Like Snyder, Detmer said Slotkin's decision last week to back an impeachment inquiry for President Donald Trump isn't the reason he decided to join the race.

Slotkin, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer and top Pentagon official, had resisted backing an impeachment inquiry for months. But she said last week it would be impeachable conduct if Trump pushed the leader of Ukraine to investigate a political rival at a time when nearly $400 million in aid for Ukraine was being withheld. 

Detmer said he reviewed the White House memo summarizing Trump's July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He doesn't see any evidence that Trump violated his oath of office, saying former Vice President Joe Biden — whom Trump asked Zelensky to probe — isn't really Trump's political rival because Biden isn't the Democratic presidential nominee but a candidate. 

"I think Congress needs to stop wasting time with frivolous attacks on the president. The president was elected. The people of this country elected him. My personal feeling is he’s doing his utmost best to get the job done that he promised the American public," Detmer said. 

"The attacks on him personally constantly have really bogged things down, and nothing’s getting done. It’s wasting taxpayers' (money). People want things done and this isn't it." 

"We have a president that is trying to root out the corruption and a lot of the people who are pointing the fingers at him have their hands dirty, too," Detmer added. 

"Do I commend the president for trying to get to the bottom of that? Yes I do. But, again, I don’t see anything in that transcript that constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor."

Both Detmer and Snyder will start significantly behind Slotkin in fundraising, as she had amassed over $1.65 million in her campaign war chest as of Sept. 30.

The Holly Democrat raised over $800,000 in the last quarter, totaling over $2 million so far for her reelection. 

"Rep. Slotkin brings a mission-focus to the issues affecting Michiganders every day: lowering the cost of prescription drugs and health care, protecting access to clean water, and bringing decency and integrity back to our politics," Slotkin spokeswoman Hannah Lindow said.

"Rep. Slotkin has put country before party throughout her life of service, first in Iraq with the CIA, serving under both President Bush and President Obama, and now in Congress. Slotkin will continue to be an independent voice for Michiganders in Congress. The congresswoman looks forward to a positive campaign, with a healthy debate on the issues.”

Slotkin flipped the traditionally red 8th District blue last year when she defeated incumbent Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, by nearly 4 percentage points.

The 8th District includes Livingston and Ingham counties and northern Oakland County. Trump won it by nearly 7 percentage points in 2016. 

Detmer said he's been "unimpressed" by Slotkin so far, saying she's "kept her head pretty low" in her first nine months in Congress, and that he hasn't seen much that she's accomplished to help veterans, whom were a focus of her campaign.  

Detmer grew up in the Rochester Hills area, the son of Christmas tree farmers, and graduated from Rochester Adams High School and Oakland University, he said. 

As part of his platform, Detmer is planning to introduce a legislative agenda called the "Contract with Michigan" — inspired by the GOP's 1994 Contract with America — that will focus on taxes, cutting spending, pro-life measures and veterans issues, he said.  

"It will be refined to handle issues that are realistic, that are common sense that we can get done in Congress," he said.

"I want to have an open line of communication with the voters, the people of the district, so we can go through weekly, monthly and quarterly and show the people what our progress is on getting that contract completed."